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Public has say on plan for twin Clare and Tipp community

THE provision of a new Waterways Museum is one of the interesting proposals mooted for a Killaloe and Ballina in a draft plan following public submissions, writes Dan Danaher.
Almost 100 submissions were made to the Planning Department of Clare and Tipperary County Councils from August 4 to September 7, 2020, concerning the Killaloe and Ballina Town Enhancement and Mobility Plan (TEMP).
In total, 50 submissions were from Ballina and 48 were from Killaloe. The purpose of this stage was to bring together the key groups that contribute to the everyday operation of the town, to share ideas on those elements of the town that work well and those that are considered to undermine the town.
Some submissions complained about a lack of a sense of place with spaces dominated by vehicular traffic and no outdoor activities.
The lack of adequate bins across from the Spar station and Clarisford Park, near Two-Mile, Gate, the housing estate, and Riverside Park and on Main Street in Ballina, were highlighted.
Residents requested seating areas at the public viewing area opposite the Ballina Church and criticised the unsightly townscape due to overhead wiring/cabling, as well as the unpleasant visual appearance of recycling facilities at Killaloe Market area.
Refurbishing the old Courthouse in Killaloe to new uses and developing the area to the rear were mentioned as well as improving the outdoor Market Area with a better place-making scheme.
Locals called for highlighting the Green in Killaloe by heavy-duty planters, trees, and seating areas, and opening the first arch of the old bridge coming from Ballina.
Extending the pontoon in Ballina Riverside Park all the way to Ballina Quay, purchasing the Dairygold creamery site in Ballina to be redeveloped as a town square, and capitalising on the heritage of Killaloe were highlighted as development proposals.
Safety issues were raised at Portroe Road R494 as it enters the village and Petrol Station Ballina, the Bridge due to the high-speed traffic and the uneven pavement,
Ballina National School entrance up to Handball Alley, and the Lakeside Drive between Flanagan’s Pub and the Lakeside hotel due to congestion of parked cars also require attention.
Lack of safe crossings were cited at Ballina town centre adjacent to McKeoghs Hardware, The Owl and the Pussy Cat and near the library and Spar.
Pay and display parking at Ballina Park from April to September was proposed, while there was concern over the lack of parking restrictions in Lakeside Drive area, and over allocation of on-street parking in both towns, with Killaloe being the worst affected.
Residents criticised the lack of bike lockers/bike stands Between the Waters or near Flanagan’s and at schools, the lack of an active transport strategy well-integrated with existing facilities, and the provision of car parking near the centre of Ballina to ease tourists’ movements in the towns.
It was proposed a footpath should be built along Lakeside River to and from the Bridge to the Lakeside Hotel.
Some of the cited weaknesses were the poor promotion of the unique historical interest and heritage of the towns, the lack of adequate and accessible signage in both towns, and the lack of information boards acknowledging the heritage of town.
An opportunity to provide for lighting of the Riverside Walk to have a better nightscape, and upgrading the Aillebhaun walk as a well-equipped greenway within Killaloe were mentioned as development proposals.
Other highlighted weaknesses were a lack of a clear vision for development of both towns,
car dominant environment of both towns, traffic congestion/limited traffic capacity, lack of parking restrictions, lack of designated footpath and adequate street lighting, poor public realm and legibility, poor pedestrian/cyclist provision, and a lack of organised community/stakeholder groups within Killaloe.
Some of the strengths include the rich heritage and history of the towns, the River Shannon, natural assets and recreational facilities, good connectivity of towns to Limerick and Nenagh, existing walking trails and greenways, a growing population and visitor base, the burgeoning tourism sector of the towns, and a collaborative partnership of two local authorities to produce a joint strategy.
Threats are vacant derelict sites/buildings and under-use, inability to manage traffic, further disparity of the towns due to lack of connectivity, loss of diversity and natural heritage by inconsiderate interventions, and unequal investment on one side of the river.
Submissions sought to promote safety of the transportation network in locations by utilising up-to-date national guidelines and standards and controlling speed limits.
They include the R494 Portroe Road as it enters the village on the Ballina side, R494 from Grange Road junction to the Spencer and Donovan Solicitors, the petrol station on the Ballina side, Lakeside Drive at Flanagan’s Pub and the Lakeside Hotel and Quarry Lane at Marine Village.
Once the bypass and new River Crossing are operational, the plan proposes to create gateways to the towns utilised with sequential design approach and speed-reducing arrangements to highlight the change of character to a less car-dominated area.
It seeks to maximise use of roadway infrastructure before investing in new or expanded facilities by prioritising public transport by seeking to increase the capacity/frequency of R323 bus service.
This could be achieved by extending the Bus 323 service route along the Main Street from Ballina Church to the GAA club, providing additional bus stops along the proposed Bus 323 extension at GAA club, Petrol Station and Superstores, and Ballina Primary School, St Flannan’s Junction and Tobermurragh park.

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